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article imageOp-Ed: Why the Oklahoma City Thunder will be 2012 NBA champions

By David Silverberg     Jan 9, 2012 in Sports
Judging by the excellent play during the first 10 games of the season, Oklahoma City Thunder are on their way to win an NBA championship this year. Yes, they're better than the Heat, Mavericks and Lakers.
Now at 8-2 and sitting atop the Western Conference, the Thunder are an elite team powered by all-stars Kevin Durant and Russel Westbrook. If everything goes smoothly for the Thunder (read: no major injuries), the Thunder could win its first NBA championship.
It might be too early to make such a prediction, but let's look at the facts: they are a young team playing in a shortened season that will likely hamper veterans. The team is shooting .468 field-goal percentage so far, and leads the league in free-throw shooting percentage (.810). Durant is fourth in the league in scoring (25.7 ppg) and Russel Westbrook is averaging a respectable 17 ppg. A powerful Durant-Westbrook combo is wrecking havoc on opponents; if they double team Durant, he can kick it out to Westbrook for an easy jumper or a slashing layup.
The rebounding core also got a boost with Kendrick Perkins stepping up (did you see how much weight he lost?), along with Serge Ibaka providing a blocking presence intimidating other centres.
The bench is also turning heads, with the likes of James Harden and Eric Maynor helping out the starters. It's a shame Maynor is now injured, but the Thunder are still on a three-game winning streak, and if they avoid any serious injuries to their star players, expect a few more of these multi-game victory laps.
The Miami Heat are the favourite to win the NBA championship, but I think their bench isn't very strong and some nagging injuries to Wade and James could bruise their scoring power. They definitely are learning to play better with each other, but their defense can be lacking. Undoubtedly, they'll win the East and face the Thunder in what we will be one of the most entertaining Finals in a long time.
And in case you haven't seen Durant work his magic, here's a highlight reel video to give you a glimpse of what this incredible player can do to defenses:
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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